Is Lord Debling in the 'Bridgerton' books? Here's what to know about the new season 3 character courting Penelope

Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) on season three of "Bridgerton."
Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) on season three of "Bridgerton."Netflix
  • Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for season three of "Bridgerton."

  • Season three includes a new character named Lord Debling, who courts Penelope Featherington.

  • The character was created for the TV show and doesn't exist in Julia Quinn's "Bridgerton" novels.

Penelope Featherington is finally going from wallflower to main character in season three of "Bridgerton," and with that transformation comes new love interests.

Season three, which premiered on Netflix on Thursday, centers on Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) and Penelope's (Nicola Coughlan) friends-to-lovers romance. Although the show is adapted from Julia Quinn's popular book series of the same name, there are some prominent changes — like a suitor named Lord Debling (Sam Phillips), who takes an interest in Penelope in her third season out in society.

Here's everything you need to know about Lord Debling and how he influences Polin's love story on the show.

Lord Debling isn't part of Julia Quinn's novels

The first look photo of Penelope (Coughlan) and Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) in "Bridgerton" season three.
Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) on season three of "Bridgerton."Netflix

Colin and Penelope's relationship is the focus of Quinn's fourth "Bridgerton" book, "Romancing Mister Bridgerton." But Lord Debling doesn't appear anywhere in the novel or the book series as a whole. Instead, he's an original character created for the TV show to be one of Penelope's love interests on season three.

"It's about adding someone to the ensemble that you just feel a little bit different about but who also works in the world," Kelly Valentine Hendry, the show's casting director, told of choosing Phillips to play the character.

"Sam had done 'Doctors' [and] 'Grantchester,' he'd been in 'The Crown,' so he's paid his credits, paid his dues," she continued. "We also needed an actor that Colin Bridgerton is going to look at from across a busy room and see Penelope with this guy and think, 'Yeah, he is a threat to me.'"

On 'Bridgerton,' Lord Debling courts Penelope Featherington but stops once he realizes she has feelings for Colin Bridgerton

Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) on season three of "Bridgerton."
Lord Debling (Sam Phillips) and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) on season three of "Bridgerton."Netflix

Lord Debling only appears in episodes three and four of season three. He's a conservationist and vegetarian with a vast estate, but his devotion to nature is considered off-putting to some people.

When Lord Debling meets Penelope, they bond over being perceived as outsiders because of their uniqueness. Both of them want to get married this season, and as Lord Debling begins courting Penelope, she starts to see the benefits of a practical marriage to him: With Lord Debling traveling and being away for years for work, she would have enough freedom to pursue her own interests — and continue being Lady Whistledown without arousing his suspicions.

Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen) also takes an interest in Lord Debling out of necessity, because her dad has reduced her allowance and threatened to find a husband for her if she doesn't secure one herself. She and Penelope both compete for Lord Debling's attention during part one, but Penelope's charm and authenticity win him over.

On episode three, after Lord Debling saves Penelope from getting hit by a hot air balloon, he tells her he doesn't mind that she doesn't share his affinity for nature. He also explains that he's not looking to court someone exactly like him; he just wants to be with someone self-assured who embraces their peculiarities the way he does.

Sam Phillips as Lord Debling on season three of "Bridgerton."
Sam Phillips as Lord Debling on season three of "Bridgerton."Netflix

As their courtship progresses, Colin, who has recently developed romantic feelings for Penelope, watches from the sidelines with jealousy. Just as Colin is ready to ask Penelope about being more than friends at a ball, Lord Debling interrupts and invites Penelope to dance with him.

During episode four, Lord Debling asks Penelope's mom, Portia Featherington (Polly Walker), for permission to propose — which she eagerly grants him. But Penelope begins doubting their future together when she asks Lord Debling if love could develop over time and he admits that his work takes up a large part of his heart.

After a conversation with Cressida on the dancefloor, Lord Debling realizes that Penelope is in love with Colin. So, he ends his courtship with Penelope and doesn't propose because he needs to be with someone who doesn't have feelings for another person.

When Penelope tells Colin about her rejection, he reveals that he hasn't stopped thinking about her for weeks. After she says that she'd like to be more than friends, they have a heated makeout in the carriage and Colin asks Penelope to marry him.

"Bridgerton" season three, part one is now streaming on Netflix. Part two will be released on Thursday, June 13.

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